Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Coleslaw, Chili Cheese Bake

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope this year brings everyone a lot of happiness.

In completely unrelated news, since I'm not hosting any parties, there's no party food. I did have some last year though if you are interested in the Holiday Appetizer Menu. It's got that spinach artichoke dip that I love and is omni-approved multiple times.

Today, we are talking about coleslaw and another casserole!

To make coleslaw, lots of people use a ton of mayonnaise. There's nothing wrong with this, (Vegenaise is what I use) but this leads to a lot of avoidable fat and it is a bit wasteful because a lot of the sauce is wasted. To make a good coleslaw, you don't need a lot of mayo. You need time. I use a fraction of the mayonnaise of traditional coleslaw and I feel it has all the flavor! The salt and vinegar break down the cabbage. Make a day ahead if you will be crunched for time. I do use a bagged mix because I don't eat a ton of cabbage. If you do, then by all means cut your own. For me it's $1.29 for the Publix brand and that's cheaper than buying both red and green cabbage, and carrots. This is one of the FEW times I would ever suggest a bagged mix of anything pre-chopped.

1 lb colw slaw cabbage mix (or make your own)
1/4 - 1/4 + 2 Tbsp Vegenaise or home made vegan mayo
1 Tbsp white vinegear
1 Tbsp soy milk
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt (add to taste, later)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
dash celery seed (opt) or you can use celery salt and cut back on plain salt

Mix everything except cabbage mix in a bowl until decently integrated. Add cabbage and toss well. It will look like there is no way it's enough liquid. It is.
LET SIT in the fridge about 1/2 hour. Stir well. Let sit another 1/2 hour or more. Fold occasionally so the dry cabbage on top gets the liquid from the bottom on it.

Can easily double this recipe. There will be a smaller volume of coleslaw after the cabbage has broken down. I would still say it makes 4 decent side dishes.

Chili Cheese Bake
I got this idea from a PPKer and tried it myself. It's good!

*12 oz pasta (macaroni, rotelle, something casserole-worthy)
*2 c chili, home made or canned like Amy's. I used My own
*1 recipe Vegan Explosion's Queso, mostly as directed: I also used 1/2 and 1/2 water/soy milk then added about 1/3- 1/2 c extra soy milk.
*Shredded vegan cheese, optional. (I used FYH, about 1/3 block)

Cook and drain pasta, and add prepared chili and queso. Top with optional cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cheap Eating

I was listening to Canadian show [i]As It Happens[/i] and they had a segment on cooking, and talked about a book that is really popular this year. It's called *deep breath* How To Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy, Balanced Diet with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time, Even if You Have a Tiny Kitchen, Only Three Saucepans (One with an Ill-fitting Lid) and no Fancy Gadgets – Unless You Count the Garlic Crusher.. I'm not plugging this book because I know nothing about it. But it did get me thinking- this is how I generally tend to cook. I'm sure the book's not vegetarian, but the fact that it's outselling Ms. Hottie Chef of the Year herself, Nigella Lawson, says something. The show's host asked listeners to share tips. Since I had to type it out anyway, here they are (and I should follow my own advice!). Please feel free to leave your own comments on cheaper cooking! I need all the help I can get.


*Get a cheap pressure cooker and start buying dried beans. They end up being less than half the price of canned. You can also freeze many of them for later use. Using beans instead of ground meat/meat substitute is also cheaper.

*If you have stores in your area that show their circulars online, you can compare and shop. Here we have Publix and Winn-Dixie that both publish their circulars online. Watch out for 2-for-1 specials. Lots of times this includes canned or fresh vegetables and spaghetti sauces, and store-brand pastas.

*I have found it's cheaper for me to buy spaghetti sauce jarred- even organic with the 2-for-1 special- than it is to make from scratch or even from canned tomatoes. If you have cheap, delicious tomatoes available then by all means. Make a ton and freeze it.

*Many vegetarians/vegans including myself eat what is called seitan (say-tan or say-tahn). It's made from wheat gluten and WAY cheaper if you make it yourself. There are recipes online for it. It is probably about 1/3-1/4 the price if you make rather than buy. Maybe even cheaper than that.

*Regarding other meat substitutes, like veggie "crumbles" that are made to replace ground beef, you can make your own with TVP/TSP (textured vegetable protein/ textured soy protein). You can also make your own veggie sausages.

*Use marinades as sauces. This is easy for vegetarians since there is no risk of salmonella/other bacteria transfer from raw meat. You can reduce most marinades in a pan and top your food with them. You can also re-use your marinades in many cases.

*Don't buy pre-chopped foods. They are ridiculously overpriced. You can get a whole bag of onions for the price of 1 or 2 pre-chopped onions (same goes with bell peppers, generally. Sometimes mushrooms are the same price chopped/whole). It's wasteful of plastic and it takes 10 seconds-1 minute to chop an onion depending on how fast you are. Pre-chopped also tends to spoil faster. Get a sharp chef knife and learn how to chop. This pretty much goes for most convenience items.

*Cook items that are cheaper, like spaghetti and chili, and some casseroles. These can be high in protein and low in fat if you make them that way. They also keep for a while and feed an army.

*Don't buy pre-packaged salads unless they are on sale. Or, you can extend your salad mix by adding some more greens, such as a bulk package of romaine. Iceburg has very little nutrition so stick to darker greens.

*If you like junk food like chips, buy the big bag and take a serving to work with you in a plastic baggie or container. Single-serve items are always more expensive per weight, and wasteful of packaging.

*Store your foods correctly. Here in Florida, it's really humid so we have to wrap everything up or it gets stale. But also, keeping food in tightly-sealed containers keeps bugs out.

*Make a list- make sure you aren't buying and wasting duplicates.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Noodle Soup Oracle!

I stumbled on this today. How cool!

Do you love noodles? Do you love soup? Click and you have a noodle soup suggestion. Be sure to check the Vegetarian Box. Sometimes it suggests eggs, but you can leave them off.

Click Here!

How cool!